The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation has recognized the City of Tacoma for its outstanding rehabilitation of the Murray Morgan Bridge. The City is one of just 10 honorees receiving a State Historic Preservation Officer’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation this year. The awards program is in its 23rd year and recognizes persons, organizations and projects that have achieved distinction in the field of historic preservation.
"It’s an incredible honor for our organization," said City of Tacoma Historic Preservation Officer Reuben McKnight. "Many people worked very, very hard to save the Murray Morgan Bridge, and the end result is something that the entire community should be really proud of."
Historically known as the 11th Street Bridge, but later named after Tacoma historian and one time bridge tender Murray Morgan, the bridge is listed on the Tacoma and National Registers of Historic Places, as well as the Washington State Heritage Register. It has long been a downtown Tacoma landmark and a symbol of Tacoma’s working waterfront heritage. After years of deferred maintenance and repairs, however, the Washington State Department of Transportation had announced its plans to demolish the 100-year-old structure.
A coalition of local preservationists, elected officials, and civic boosters overcame a myriad of obstacles to obtain the bridge from the state and find a preservation alternative. With funding in hand and widespread public support, the City of Tacoma spent three years retrofitting the bridge to meet current safety standards, create bicycle and pedestrian access, and restore the center bridge span lift mechanism.
Reopened to traffic in February 2013, the Murray Morgan Bridge regained its place as a local icon.
Another award was given to Metro Parks Tacoma for its meticulous restoration of the Point Defiance Park Pagoda. The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation has noted that the award, in part, also honors Tacoma’s firefighters for their rapid response and sensitivity to the structure's historic character.